31 January 2011

Little Things in Life...

I'm sitting in carline...just sitting. No music, no magazine--just me, beautiful weather and blessed silence.

Ain't Monday grand?


27 January 2011

Back to Base-ics

The other day I ran into Kayci's gymnastics coach and I ended the conversation with something like, God help her, she's built like me and will most likely end up a base.  (For you non-cheer folks out there, a base is the girl who doesn't fly, but she does make it possible for the other girl to fly/be up in the air.)

It wasn't the first time I've said that, and I don't intend it to be ugly.  Just realistic:  Kayci is tall and solid and healthy and beautiful just the way God made her.  While I want her to work hard to reach her goals and dream big...I don't want to set her up for disappointment, either.  Fact:  if she can't do a cartwheel or a handspring or a back handspring or any of those things, she probably won't get far on a cheer squad.  We've already told her she needs to learn the basics if she's serious, and if she's really serious, she'll have to work hard as she gets older.  

That little offhand comment I made to Julie stuck with me and kind of rattled around...and then yesterday it came together in my head.

(image:  Microsoft ClipArt)

When I was a little girl, back in the days when twice-yearly trips to Sears were a BIG deal and Sears still smelled like tires and popcorn, I wanted to be a cheeleader.  (That's not a typo, just thought that's what they were called.)  Not just any cheeleader either:  I wanted to be one of the Derrick Dolls.  I had the shirt (from Sears, natch) and everything.  There was just one problem, which would become clearer and clearer as I grew up:  I was large, uncoordinated, and never learned any skills that would actually come in handy while cheering.  By the time cheer tryouts came at the end of sixth grade, I didn't even try out--trust me when I say, there would have been no point.  I wasn't bitter about it or anything, and I had awesome high school and college experiences.  (Most of you were there, you remember.  Life was good!)  In college, I worked for Student Activities and my boss was in charge of the cheerleaders and dance team.  I'll admit, I envied--and still envy--those little girls who can fly.  And part of me felt a little sorry for the larger girls who would never see any air, and would always be bases.  (You know, the sturdy looking cheerleaders.) 

After I said that to Julie about Kayci being a base, I thought about myself.  Had I ever learned to do a cartwheel or anything fun like that, I might have been a cheerleader.  And I'm 99.99% sure I'd have been a base, holding another girl up at games or linking arms with other girls to catch the tiny girl who could fly up into the air.  And you know what?  I'm okay with that.  I wouldn't have been in college, because I still wished I'd wake up one day and be a 5'2" size 0...wait, no, smaller than a 0.  Have you seen how small those cheer skirts are?  But I digress...

...at this point in my life, I know that God is working on me.  THE VERSE is still stalking me;  this week the Mark version appeared in a book I started reading then put down because it freaked me out that THE VERSE was there in something totally not related to what THE VERSE is about...so I know it's just God getting my attention.  And He's got it.  I've been praying a lot about where I am and where I need to be, and I know that I need to "deny myself"...I need to put my ego and pride aside and focus on being who I am, not WHAT I want to be.  

So where it all ties together, because it's time for carline and I don't have time for a great segue:  here's the thing, over the past couple of days, I've come to realize that I am a base.  That's my role right now in life, to be here to support my family and loved ones, and to build them up.  To provide a strong foundation for our little family and be solid for them.  And, the same thing applies to my team at work:  I've worked with them for years and I've taught them as much as I can.  It's their time to shine...and time for me to stay in the background.  I had quite a day yesterday and I won't go into a lot of detail, but suffice to say, it hit me hard that as much as it's exciting to be a part of something that's going to have a big, lasting impact...it's not my time to be in the spotlight.  I had my time, and it was a great time, but it's someone else's time now.  It's my job right now to make sure that the ladies have the tools they need to succeed and shine, and that they have a firm foundation upon which to build.  That's it.  I'm one of the bases.  

Alas, I don't have a great line to leave you with, either.  This has just been on my mind today and I needed to get it in writing.  I know, I know, that's what drafts are for...but this blog is real--it's my journal, and sometimes my life isn't perfectly tied together with a beginning, middle and end.  Sometimes there's no witty one-liner.  Sometimes it rambles and you end up right where you started.  And sometimes, you just get totally lost.  That's my life.  And I'm okay with that.  

26 January 2011

Attitude of GrAtItUdE!

November's gratitude project was great for our family, so I decided to keep it going...minus the cool jar. So I pulled out a fun journal and now at breakfast or dinner each day, we each tell what we're thankful for. I believe these "thankful for's" have really done wonders for all of us...and help keep us focused on what really matters. I'm thankful for GrAtItUdE!

Our gratitude journal (it just lives on the table...doesn't even bug me!)...

Some days I write...

...and on the really great days, Kayci writes.

If you haven't tried on the attitude of gratitude, yet, what's stopping you? Trust me--it will make a difference in your life and outlook! (Seriously...if you only talk about what's wrong...before long, it feels like everything's wrong. So, what's RiGhT in your life, friends?).

25 January 2011

The World in my Eyes

I know it should be "through," but Depeche Mode is running through my head. :)

My phone is filled with photos taken by Noble. It's kinda fun to scroll through and see what he sees...

I love those eyes and the world I see through them, and in them. My cup runneth over. :)

20 January 2011

Kayci's Favorite Room

The other day,  I was in our bedroom, putting away laundry.  Kayci came in and climbed up on the foot of the bed (as the kids do constantly...hope it holds up to all of the swinging!) and said, "You want to know my favorite room in our house?"  Sure...I always love hearing her random thoughts.  :)

"Your bedroom," she said...

..."and the living room."

And then she went on her way, leaving me to think about her choices.  Why not the office, where the toys live, or their bedroom, with all of the bright colors and books and her favorite things?  And I realized what the two rooms she picked have in common.  If we're all in the living room together, chances are good we're visiting or watching TV or reading.  And if we're in our bedroom together, we're reading or visiting.  I think what she was trying to tell me, on that afternoon when it felt like we were waiting for FOREVER for Daddy to get back to Brenham, was that she likes it best when we're all together and comfy at home.

I concur.

18 January 2011

My Favorite Part of the Trip

Daddyboy comes home today!! I admire those of you who a) travel frequently or b) are married to someone who travels frequently. The four of us just aren't cut out for it!

17 January 2011

On My Mind...

I've got a lot on my mind these days, and not much of it translates well to my silly little blog.  But here's one thing I want to share because it keeps popping up in the oddest places and it's what I'm working on right now:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
Luke 9:23 (NIV)

For the past 10, 11 years when I've read this same verse, I thought it meant denying temptations and worldly things.  Last Sunday when we read this verse in church, I had a lightbulb moment (and feel free to say, "duh," as it does SAY THIS right there...):  Jesus wasn't talking about giving up stuff or giving up attitudes...he was talking about denying MYself.  My ego, my pride--what drives me.  

Sigh.  They say when the student is ready the teacher appears, but honestly, I don't know that I was ready for the fallout of finally understanding what Jesus meant.  So that's where I am...I'm in progress.  

We'll call this part 1...so much to say, but that's a lot for today.  

On a lighter note, I hope y'all are enjoying a day off with your kiddos today.  My house looks like a pageant exploded with sequins and feathers and makeup everywhere.  (Emma is spending the weekend with us, and the girls are having a blast!)  

At some point today, I'm going to sit down with Kayci and watch Martin Luther King, Jr. speak.  She's old enough now to know WHY she gets a day off from school.  :)  Kristi trivia:  when I was in high school, MLK, Jr. was kind of an obsession.  I read tons of books about him and studied his speeches and just the way he lived his life.  He was truly as awesome as he's been made out to be, and I'm grateful for his sacrifices.  And you know what?  Today I'm going to look up "Pride" and see why U2 says "early morning."  I wonder if dinnertime is early morning in Ireland?  Hmm...

12 January 2011

Sad Fact

I would rather be without this dress than sew on this freakin' button.

All at once...

All at once, it's obvious every single day that my Bitty is growing up.  Fast.

The other day, I cut her toenails.  Not such a big deal...but they're BIG toenails now.  I was shocked...which makes me wonder how long it's been since I've cut said toenails.  Poor kid.

She's tall.  Crazy tall...and seems to get taller overnight every single day.  Seriously, those legs...so hard to keep her in pants that are long enough.

There are red spots popping up on her nose...some sort of preadolescent acne, maybe?  Sigh.

Reading?  No sweat.  She's definitely a Clarkson in that area--she can read anything you put in front of her.

Which leads me to this...Sunday in church, I realized that I've NEVER shown Kayci how to really USE a Bible.  So when we went to look up their verse Sunday evening, I realized she's got like, 5 or 6 Bibles, but not one that she can use for study.  I am embarrassed to admit that it never occurred to me.  Which is sad because that tells you right there how much use my Bible has been getting these days...not enough.  But that's another whole story--the good news is, my Bible and I are getting reacquainted.  Having mine out and just holding it made me remember how much I LOVE THAT BOOK, and what it means to me.  Holding it is like holding...I don't know what, but it just feels good in my hands.  And I want Kayci to have that same feeling.  I remember my first "real" Bible--King James Precious Moments, sent by Marsha.  I used the heck out of that thing for YEARS...long after I was too old.  :)  Anyway...I digress.  It was time for Kayci's first study Bible, and Daddy happened to have an early day yesterday, so we planned a family shopping trip.

Daddyboy snapped a few pics when we weren't paying attention.  :)

It was not as painless as you'd assume Bible shopping to be.  There was some pouting involved.  There was much rushing involved (on my part...the store was closing at 5:30).  But in the end, we left the store with a happy girl and her very functional, very appropriate, but still very cute, Bible.  And I was a happy girl when I went to write in her Bible and realized she'll forever have a book dated 1.11.11.  (Normally I would have written 11 January 2011, but could NOT pass up 1.11.11, come on.)

In my childrens' lifetimes so far, my Bible has been put away more than it's been out.  (I did use it quite a bit for a while, but then Jesse got ahold of it and ate the mementos I'd been saving inside of it which led me to put it back in my bedside table...3 years ago.  Yikes!)  When I've done Bible studies, I've grabbed whatever Bible I could find on the hall shelf or (yes, really) used the Bible on my iPhone these past few years (it's so easy!).  But when I got out MY Bible last week, it was like...coming home.  James gave me this Bible on our 3rd wedding anniversary, when we started our Discovery classes at St. Timothy's.  This Bible has been used and loved and carted around...and for the past few years, hidden away.  How sad is that?  It occurred to me this weekend that perhaps that's why I've been at a crossroads for the past few years professionally:  I haven't gotten quiet long enough to listen to what God is trying to tell me.  But let me tell you, He got ahold of me on Sunday and I suspect some changes will be coming my way...still working that out and listening...and listening...and reading.  It seems like it's all coming together quickly and pointing at the same thing...what I'm reading on my own, the Mary & Martha study, and what we've heard in church the past couple of weeks.

I'll tell you guys about all that I'm learning right now...but today is a commuting day, and I've gotta hit the road in a while.  I decided to leave when my Boy takes the kids to school today--since I haven't been away from Noble in months, I figured his second day of school wasn't a great time to NOT be here when he wakes up.   But it's a late meeting day, so it's okay to go in a little later.  Anyway...hope you all have a great day, if you're still reading!

10 January 2011

Return of the List

It's the time of year when I reevaluate my habits and look for ways to improve, so be forewarned: the blogcast calls for severe navelgazing this month.

Today I brought back an old friend: my list. The notebook has been riding around in my purse as usual, but I haven't been writing lists in it as much as carrying it out of habit.

I have to admit, my life (internally, at least) has been a little chaotic these past few months. Just taking time to write down a list of tasks made a huge difference in my peace of mind today. :)

06 January 2011

What Matters Most

"No matter what we do in life, 
it's the love we leave behind 
that matters most."
-Pat Tucker

One year ago today, the world lost a wonderful woman 
whose legacy lives on.  
Big hugs, Mitzie. 

05 January 2011


...that's better. I can think again!

Answered Prayer

Where to begin with this one...did you read Monday's post?  I mentioned that we have been praying about what to do about Bubby, and a few hours later, that prayer was answered in a most unexpected way...let me explain a bit more.  Kayci went to daycare (Mom's KinderCare).  It was great for her, great for us, great for Mom & Dad, too.  About a year after we moved here, she started going to First Methodist VERY part-time, because I knew I wanted her to go there for Pre-K (and she was still going to KinderCare the days I worked in Houston...it was a crazy time, looking back).  Never a problem.  PreK?  Awesome!  

Along came Noble.  We had prayed and prayed for another child and just when we gave up, gave all of our baby stuff away and started making other plans for me professionally, God answered that prayer.  (He has a sense of humor, we know.)  What a blessing Noble has been, from day one.  Kayci wished for a baby brother when she blew out the candles on her 4th birthday cupcakes...and in Noble's first ultrasound, the start date of the pregnancy was 6/18/07 (Kayci's 4th birthday).  I am grateful that I had Noble when I was older, for one, and had more free time and just more time to BE and reflect instead of just react...he has been a much different child than Kayci since birth.  I won't say he's hard, but he's definitely more of a challenge.  He's so different than I am, it makes me really stop and think about why he's doing what he's doing and how I should react...whereas Kayci is exactly like me, so right or wrong (mostly wrong), I tend to parent her on instinct.  With Noble, it's not quite that easy.  Instead of instinct, I've had to learn to stop and really listen for that still small voice inside for guidance.  I've had to learn to really pray about what's right for Noble and for me and for our family...and I'm grateful that professionally I'm at a point that offers a lot of flexibility.  From the day Noble was born (early!), I've needed that flexibility for my sanity.  Let's see--he was born early, right after I started a new position at Region 4, then when he was 2 months old my Grandma died (after 2 weeks of driving back and forth and ups and downs and...you know).  When Noble was 4 1/2 months old, Dad was diagnosed with cancer.  The next 9 months were defined by Dad's illness and death, and Noble and I spent a lot of time on the road and in Houston and at doctors and just hanging out with Mom and Dad.  Noble was great medicine for all of us, and provided a wonderful distraction sometimes when we needed it most.  One of my favorite pictures, ever, is a shot of Noble riding on Dad's lap in one of those power carts at HEB.  We took Dad to the store on Good Friday to get groceries for the big dinner the next day, and it was the last time he left home.  (He would be gone 8 days later.)  Noble's grin in that picture is priceless...and Dad's joy at just BEING with Noble is unforgettable.  Oh, but I digress...

When I go back and read my blog posts from Noble's first year, it becomes apparent as he grows that I'm struggling to find time to work and be a full-time Mommy.  (Mind you, I had started making other plans when it looked like we were only going to have the one wonderful child, and I thought when Kayci went to Kindergarten I'd work a lot more, write, etc.  Ha!)  So, we prayed about it and it looked like a local church day school was a great place to start.  And Noble did well there as long as he was in the baby room with Cindy and Madeline.  After that, not so much...he regressed, stopped talking, threw fits, and generally just turned into a little caveman on days he went to school.  After a year, we finally listened to that gut feeling we'd had all along and pulled him out.  Unfortunately, we'd planned to pull him out on Wednesday...that Monday, an unsecured wooden shelf fell on him.  His face was cut, but he was fine other than that.  Needless to say, he didn't go back to finish the week.  (Right after that, a toddler was killed in Arkansas, I think, when a shelf fell...that was sobering.)  

So, we tried the full-time Mommy thing again.  As fun as it was, it was still causing problems for my work.  Luckily, Heather was looking for something to do and watching Noble while I worked on Wednesdays worked well for her family and ours.  It was such a blessing!  This worked well for all of us, but we knew it wouldn't be permanent.  Since September, Heather has been in school and subbing and Noble has been hanging out with me.  He's been a trooper about going back and forth to Houston, but once again, while it has worked out well, I can't do classroom visits the way I need to with the Bubby in tow.  So, I've been praying and wondering what's next...how to balance what I need to work and what Noble needs.  We've been able to juggle and wiggle and bend, but I'm kind of wondering what's next for us, where I need to be professionally, personally, all that big stuff.  

I think I've mentioned before that we put Noble on the waiting list at St. Paul's this year.  It's so hard to get in there if you're not a member--like, people wait in line overnight to get spots.  Yeah.  That's a big part of the reason we've not had either kid there before.  :)  But it is a great school and most of our little friends go there, and it seems to be a great potential fit for Noble.  We just talked about it this weekend, in fact, that we would suck it up this year and camp out to get him a spot in the 3 year old class next year.  And then the call came on Monday...a lot of that is Heather's story to share.  It turns out, we've both been standing at a crossroads, trying to decide which way to go.  One phone call on Monday answered prayers for both of us, and gave us the direction that we had been searching for.  She asked, again, about a spot for Noble at St. Paul's--and this time, the answer was "yes."  Imagine our shock after months of "no" and "not yet."  We thought about it--for about half a second--and prayed about it...but it just felt RIGHT.  So yesterday we took Noble to visit his new class (he cried because he didn't want to leave the playground!) and again, it all just felt RIGHT.  Today he woke up at 4:45 because he was so excited!  Of course, 3 hours later by the time we dropped Kayci off he had worn off some of the excitement...there may have been a couple of "I NOT going to St. Paul's!" from the backseat, but once we pulled up to the church he was happy again.  He didn't shed a single tear, and neither did I, I'm happy to report.  

Now here it is, 10:15.  I opted to work at home today just in case he needed me to pick him up early, or he didn't nap there, or he cried...but I don't expect to get that phone call.  As much as I prayed for this time to work, now that it's here, I'm still in shock and quite frankly, feeling a little lost.  Next Wednesday I'll drive in and Daddy will take the kids to school and we'll start our "real" new routine.  Today I will be up late to make up the work hours I've spent taking kids to school and blogging and just trying to wrap my brain around the new order.  Noble at St. Paul's--answered prayer.  Now I need to be a good steward of this time, this blessing, and get to work!  :)  

Still reading?  Thanks.  I know I sound crazy--why not just pop him in a daycare and quit my whining?  It does sound easy, doesn't it?  But I feel very convicted that what Noble needs most is time with me...and that he also needs time away from me.  Structured time when he can stretch his little wings a bit in a safe, Christian environment.  I hope that St. Paul's is that for him, and if not, we'll go back to the drawing board.  But like I told James and Heather, at least that way we'll know and we won't be in limbo anymore, waiting to see if it's an option.  

Please keep my Bubby in your prayers today.  He was very happy when I left him this morning, and I totally expect him to balk when I pick him up this afternoon.  Fingers crossed!  :)

04 January 2011

A Moment of Silence...

...for my keepsake ornaments that didn't survive the season. I haven't lost ornaments like this since the year the tree fell and wiped out a few. Sniff.

What to do, what to do...

Perhaps it's time to bite the bullet...the clutter is taking over my house AND my brain.

03 January 2011

Living Purposefully

I tried to explain how I'm feeling this morning to my boy...overwhelmed, a little, hopeful, a lot...there are so many things I need and want to do like, yesterday. As you can see in the background of the picture, it's still Christmas around here, but my sweet boy surprised me yesterday by going to storage and bringing home the tubs, etc. to pack it all up and take it back. We had planned to work on that yesterday after nap, but lunch went late so naps were late and then we had dinner plans...typical Sunday. :) So, that's carried over into this week. I have a work project due today at noon that I need to be working on more than I need to be blogging, but I was sitting here at the table working and itwas driving me nuts that I had a project in progress on the table, so I finished it. Finished what? This...it's a horrible picture, but you get the idea.

Each year when we pack up Christmas, it's such a breath of fresh air to have a clutter-free home again. I love the fake snow and trees and decorations everywhere--but in January, it's a relief to see clean surfaces again! The dining room table seems to suffer the most from bare-itis, and I decided to make a centerpiece that will remind us of the habits we want to work on in 2011. I started with my favorite glass vase and then just started putting in objects that would serve as a visual reminder. There are not objects for some things, but that's okay...it wasn't meant to be a time-consuming project. :)

Here's what's on my mind for 2011:

study God's word + live God's word + be an example to our children + get to church! + take a second, clean it up + love much, laugh often + show up! + listen more, talk less + keep in touch + read more + say thanks + eat clean + plan ahead + practice gratitude + get out and play! + finish what we start + be present + use time purposefully + eliminate debt + unplug + u$e ca$h + move more

I might translate this into a family mission statement/subway art picture here soon...we'll see.  I got that idea from Kim Bartholomew this summer and I've been wanting to put one together since.  Maybe this is the year!  :)

So that's where I am this morning...at the table working while my poor kids happily watch TV.  It's time to work on that habit, as well, but not this morning.  Kayci goes back to school tomorrow and I need to figure out which day I'm going in to Houston...it's time to get purposeful and make the most of my work time this semester.  That brings me back to the question of what to do with Noble...but not today.  Today, one thing at a time.  Next up:  finish my Region 4 task before the noon deadline.  Then, at 12:30 it's family picnic time.  Then nap time and WalMart for pullups and other necessities, then family time and dinner time and bedtime...that's my day.  Somewhere in there I hope to get the majority of this Christmas stuff into the appropriate tubs and put the shower curtain back up (it's our winter one right now, and I'm tired of it--I miss my cowboys!)...

OH!  This is ironic, but here it is:  I picked up the "Mary Heart in a Martha World" book last week, and I have finished the first two chapters.  It definitely speaks to me, although you can tell from the post above I'm stubbornly holding on to my "busyness."  Sigh.  I've wanted to read it for quite a while, as I am so much like my busy friend Martha.  Maybe I need to move that to the top of my habits list:  more Mary, less MARTHA!   Starting tomorrow...  :D

01 January 2011

Little Things...

...make me happy. Wrapping paper? Pretty close to ecstatic! Oh, the places we'll go...

Hobby Lobby is clearing out Christmas...but this is stuff we can use year-round. I also scored teacher Valentine gifts--they were "Christmas" so they were 66% off...but red glitter LOVE? Screams Valentine to me!! :)

If a wedding is in your near future, they have white, too...and other words, of course. Faith or hope, friends?

I love this time of year, when I'm motivated to throw out old habits and start fresh the way I'd like to go on. In that spirit, today we're hanging out at home and I'm slowly cleaning out the chaos of Christmas + 2 weeks of sick. I've been overwhelmed looking at it all and thinking about it, but today I decided to take baby steps. Before I know it, the house will be back to normal and all of the Christmas blessings will have new homes. It's time to clean out toys--can't believe we didn't finish it before Christmas!--and think of others, too.

So, happy new year from Mommygirl to you. Here's hoping 2011 brings blessings your way!